Cocktail Advent 25: Cranberry Winter Solstice


Merry Christmas!

If you’ve got leftover cranberry sauce from today’s dinner, here’s a saucy (oh, yes I did!) way to use it up (unless you’ve got cranberry puree on hand for some other reason).

Cranberry Winter Solstice
Source: Manny Hinojosa

  • • 1 1/2 oz. Grey Goose La Poire Vodka
  • • 1 1/2 oz. The Perfect Purée Cranberry Puree, thawed
  • • 1 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • • 1/2 oz. agave nectar
  • • Ginger beer (to top)
  • • 3 drops sesame chili oil
  • • Lemon wheel (for garnish)


In a cocktail shaker combine all ingredients with ice except ginger beer and sesame chili oil. Shake and serve over the rocks in a Collins glass. Top with ginger beer and 3 drops of sesame oil. Garnish with lemon wheel.

The sesame chili oil has me doing a head-tilt, but I’m all for the sweet and spicy combo in theory. If you try this, do let us know how it went?

***This recipe was submitted by a representative of The Perfect Puree. I am not affiliated with the company nor was I compensated for this post, not even with review samples. As always, we encourage responsible refreshment and the use of the Designated Driver. No drunken monkeys, please!***

AlcoHOLidays | Labor Day | Cruzan Slowpoke Shandy



And just like that, we’ll close the book on another summer.

That’s right, another 3-day-weekend is upon us, the last of the season, and the fall and winter holidays are right around the corner. Football has started back up, school is back in session for many, and soon the weather will turn cooler with a decided nip in the air. (At least we can hope on that last one!)

I knew Labor Day (celebrated on the first Monday of September) was worker-related, but I didn’t know much more than that, I’m ashamed to say. For others in a similar fog, here’s the rundown.

It started in the 1880s after a member of one of the large Unions (there’s debate on whether it was the CLU or the AFL) may or may not have observed a similar worker’s festival in Canada. Oregon started the trend, first celebrating Labor Day in 1887, but it wasn’t until after the Pullman Strike in 1894 that it became a Congressionally-mandated Federal holiday.

I don’t think I’ve ever witnessed a Labor Day parade, have you? Apparently the parade celebrating labor and trade unions was one of the major components of the original holiday, those these days it seems like barbecues and sales at the mall are the main “celebrations” of the day. I’ve attended conventions and camp-outs on this weekend in the past, but I’m looking forward to time spent at home this year. (I’d love to say I’ll be relaxing, but I have a feeling I’ll still manage to be busy!)

In honor of summer’s last hurrah, here’s a cocktail that uses the spirit of summer (rum) along with beer, lemon, and ginger for a slightly sweet yet perky finish. A shandy is shorthand for a beer cocktail, usually including a carbonated beverage of some sort; there’s none in here but if you really wanted to add a touch of authenticity, a good ginger beer could nicely substitute for the ginger syrup (but I wouldn’t go so weak as a ginger ale, and I’d use more of it, too).

Cruzan® Slowpoke Shandy

2 oz Cruzan® Single Barrel Rum
1/2 oz Lime Juice
1/4 oz Ginger Syrup*
Wheat Beer to fill

Combine rum, lime and ginger syrup in a pint glass and slowly pour half of the beer into the glass. Add a few ice cubes and finish pouring the beer.

* Make a 2:1 simple syrup (2 parts sugar to 1 part water) with grated fresh ginger in the mix. Strain before using.

(recipe courtesy of Cruzan Rum)


And with that, something else is coming to a close: this is the last official post in the AlcoHOLidays series. We started last year with Brazilian Independence Day on September 7th, so we’ve covered a full year of holidays of all sorts! In a couple of weeks I’ll be starting a new “Meet the Wines” series, this time I think we’ll go for a bit of the bubbly (which should take us through mid-October or so). After that I’ll be taking a bit of an extended leave while I go off and get married and then do some shuffling up of my blogs once I get back. And I think I’m done with the weekly themed series for now, I want to go a little more free-form for a while.

Don’t worry, I’ll be sure to leave a trail of breadcrumbs–I certainly don’t intend to leave you guys off the guest list 😉


AlcoHOLidays | National Battery Day | High Voltage


jwalker_highvoltagecocktailGot your history caps on? Today’s cocktail comes with a real charge!

Unlike the seemingly arbitrary assignment of some holidays (yes, PB&J Day, I’m looking at you), National Battery Day makes perfect sense as it falls on February 18th, the birthday of Alessandro Volta, the inventor of the battery.

Volta (from whom we get the word volt–the measure of electrical potential) was a physicist born in Como Italy, who discovered the gas methane in 1778 as well as created what he called a voltaic pile in 1800–an electrochemical cell or, in other words, a battery. With some acidic or brined cloth between them, the stacked zinc and copper get to zapping, and we get electricity. He also had another version called, appropriately enough, the Crown of Cups.

High Voltage

3/4 oz. Pepper Vodka
1/2 oz. Chocolate Liqueur
a couple pieces Crystallized Ginger
2 1/2 oz. Ginger Beer

In the bottom of a mixing glass, muddle the crystallized ginger with the vodka and chocolate liqueur until the ginger is broken up. Fill the mixing glass 3/4 full with ice, top with ginger beer and shake until nice and frothy. Strain into a prepared cocktail glass and garnish with a bit more of the crystallized ginger and a red chili.

When brainstorming this drink for a few days leading up to my own experiments, I was thinking of flavors that would instantly communicate a bit of a zap to the tongue: ginger and chili. Well, turns out, when I did the research, both ginger and chili powder natural sources of copper in the diet, and dark chocolate gives us copper as well as zinc*. Obviously the distillation process has probably done away with the actual health benefits of this drink, but it’s the thought that counts, right?

As for particulars, for the vodka I used Absolut Peppar, the chocolate was–of course–Godiva, and the ginger beer Bundaberg. If you must use ginger ale, at least use something with some bite to it or make up a small batch of ginger sugar syrup (small because the ginger zing fades away quickly) and add it to your own seltzer water to taste.

So if you need something to zap you into action, why not raise your glass to Count Volta (so honored by Napoleon in 1801) and get to your good times quick like a bunny.

Sips & Shots: come for the cocktails, stay for the history lessons. Or not.



*For the love of all that’s good and right, please do not take your nutritional guidelines from a cocktail article, m’kay? If you think you need additional zinc, copper, or anything else that your body may be lacking, please see a doctor not a bartender.

Cosmic Cocktails | Virgo | Downtime


Virgos are the worker-bees of the zodiac, they have a need to be constantly busy, constantly doing, and often doing things for others. They are well-suited to the task-master positions of a Personal Assistant (the power behind the power, so to speak) and their perfectionist tendencies make them great managers, though they do have to watch for being overly critical of others while trying to get everyone under them up to their standards.

Downtime, Virgo Cocktail

Teacher’s pets in school, they’re just the sort to wreck the curve and be slightly less well-liked by their peers. The Virgo will very likely pass this off as jealousy, though, as the compliments of the teachers will bolster their spirits.

Got a problem? Go to a Virgo–they love to give advice and, unlike others, are actually pretty good at pin-pointing what, where, and how you went wrong and helping you fix it. They do it with candor and wit, though, so even the bad news goes down gently.

Unless, of course, you’ve found your way onto their bad side, in which case there is no preparing for the snark that will roll from their lips. And not just that, Virgos bring the guilt trip to new heights and you will feel it acutely when you’ve wronged them.

Of course, they’re also very self-critical and are constantly trying to improve themselves, not just others. Too much of this self-analysis can lead to hypochondria and have them dying of some trendy or obscure (extra points if it’s somehow both) disease every other week. Their natural predilection to stomach aches–when stressed or otherwise hyper-focused–gives them ample opportunity for worrying over medical maladies, so stress reduction and getting things out into the open (not their strong suit) is something every Virgo could use.


2 oz Ginger Beer
3/4 oz Frangelico
1/2 oz Cointreau

Combine ingredients over ice in a mixing glass and stir until thoroughly mixed and cool–no shaking, that would be far too disruptive, think chill thoughts. Strain into a fresh glass with a few cubes of fresh ice and garnish with some crystallized ginger.

Usually I base these drinks around the direct personality traits of a person, sign, or theme. Today’s cocktail is a slight departure, in that this is more a Virgoan antidote for their everyday life.

Ginger is a natural stomach-soother in it’s various forms. On our last cruise I brought along ginger pills as well as ginger candies with us just in case of seasickness (I don’t usually get it, but it never hurts to be safe). The ginger beer in this recipe isn’t alcoholic and it isn’t the same as ginger ale–it’s 100 times better than even our favorite, Vernor’s, ginger ale and the brand I buy (Bundaberg) has bits of the crushed ginger floating about in it, still.

The hazelnut liqueur represents the various nut-bearing trees this sign is associated with and the orange is just a nice complement to them both. The liqueurs also tone down the bite of the ginger beer which some people find objectionable (not me, of course, but some).

A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forest


When contemplating this week’s letter, the first thing to come to mind was Frangelico–the wonderful hazelnut liqueur that comes in a bottle shaped like a Franciscan monk, complete with a rope belt. But a single ingredient a cocktail does not make.

So while supper simmers I have to ponder what else to put with the nutty Friar. Oooh, Friar? As in, perhaps, Friar Tuck? As in Robin Hood? This calls for some serious research via my DVD library. And I’m not talking about the Kevin Costner version, either. My favorite Robin Hood is the animated one from 1973.

But how was this going to turn from cartoon into cocktail?

Sherwood Forest Cocktail

Well, we already had the Friar covered, so I’m leaning sweet. Vanilla Vodka for the lovely Maid Marian gives us a good base for our cocktail, and puts the love-interest front and center. Somewhere along my wandering pondering I decided on blue curacao but I can’t remember for who or why, though the hazelnut-orange combination makes me want to keep it. Let’s just say it’s for Little John, voiced by Phil Harris who also voices Baloo the bear in the Jungle Book. Baloo, B-lue. Close enough for me!

But, oh, we’ve got three great alcohols, here, what ever are we going to combine them with? You know I need a non-hooch mixer to balance these heavy hitters and we still haven’t paired up Robin Hood yet…

I’ve got it!

Sherwood Forest

1 1/4 oz Vanilla Vodka
3/4 oz Frangelico
1/2 oz Blue Curacao
3 oz Ginger Beer

Combine vodka and both liqueurs over ice and shake like the “safety’s on ol’ Betsy.” Strain into a chilled martini glass and top with ginger beer, letting the carbonation stir things up for you.

The finished drink is a bright green/teal color. If that doesn’t appeal to you, feel free to substitute Cointreau for the blue curacao, but not triple sec–it’d be too bossy. (A cherry speared with a little wooden arrow would make a fantastic garnish, don’t you think? Fresh out of both, I went with an classic-style cocktail glass that’s actually from the Walt Disney Signature collection.)

So, how did I get from Robin Hood to ginger beer? Well, in the animated version Robin Hood is a fox, foxes are red and this is an English tale. Across the pond redheads are called gingers, ergo ginger beer! Yes, I suppose you could substitute ginger ale for the ginger beer but the flavor will be weaker unless you’ve got easy access to some artisanal  ginger ale micro”brew” or something. Seriously, go for the real thing or you might have to call it the Sheriff Nottingham (a wolf in fox’s clothing).